Saturday, 3 October 2009

Not a good advert for public transport

How do you devise an integrated transport system? Well the easiest answer is to watch Yes Minister and follow the dialogue. A longer answer is to think about how you want people to move around the country. If you think it is best to get people to buy and maintain their own vehicles, travel into the city centres, clog up the streets and then find a parking space then that is basically the system we have now. It has the advantage of giving freedom to individuals and this view will be supported by all car owners.

On the other hand, if you care about the earth's resources and want them used in an appropriate way, if you want to keep costs down, if you want to stop congestion and ease pollution then you need an integrated transport system.

Take the example of travelling round the country. If you offer passes that allow you to travel cheaply then you will use it. Get people onto public transport that is not being used to full capacity and it is a win-win-win situation for the individual for the transport company and for society. It's not too good for manufacturers of private vehicles but times will change anyway and cars have and will become more efficient.

In practice this is not happening. A Canadian relative and his friend are touring Europe and they are with us at the moment. They have bought their pass for French trains but it just wasn't worth it in Britain. This is not a good advert for our rail system and for our attitude towards public transport in general. I for one will continue to use my gas guzzler.

Change the world

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